Senator Jeff Merkley had a pretty good day yesterday. Merkley is the main sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would ban job discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. And in a dramatic bit of voting yesterday, seven Republicans joined 54 Democrats in pushing the bill forward for a historic debate—including three swing-state senators personally won over by Merkley just minutes before the roll call. It's been 17 years since the Senate last took up such a bill. A lot has changed. But not everything. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has pledged to kill the bill, with talk of "trial lawyers" standing in as code for bigotry.
Republicans and "sodomy." What a crazy pair.
The latest act of responsible gun ownership by a member of a well-regulated militia: A young man, apparently suicidal, walked into a mall in New Jersey last night and fired several shots at the ceiling—forcing a lockdown that trapped workers and shoppers for hours. No one else was injured, except the gunman, found dead when cops searched the mall this morning.
I spy a problem. The Obama administration is sorry the world's displeased with their indiscriminate internet snooping and it feels just awful about the tapping of world leaders' phones. However! It also says the show must go on, until the National Security Agency gets better at aiming its invasion of privacy at specific people.
Israel and Iran both attended a secret Swiss-hosted meeting on nuclear disarmament in the Middle East. No one's dishing yet on what was discussed. It was just enough that they were there.
Mangalyaan means "Mars craft" in Hindi. India has just launched a very expensive rocket bearing that name, keeping up with the Joneses in the sky while taking flak at home for not spending the money helping curb its rampant poverty on the ground.
A trove of Nazi-looted art, once thought lost to flames decades ago, was almost accidentally rediscovered—bringing back works from big names including Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, and Chagall.
The Dutch are very interested in offering political asylum to any Russians looking to flee their home country's repressive crackdown on its LGBTQ community.
A racist text message scandal festering in the Miami Dolphins' locker room has reminded everyone that grown men groomed, cheered, and paid handsomely for playing a brutal, physical sport also tend to act like terrible bullies. Because they feel like they can get away with it. And they usually do.
Case in point! A middle school football coach in the Portland metropolitan area was just fired after insisting beyond all reason he be able to hold a team awards dinner at the Jantzen Beach Hooters (a name that always makes me think of late-era Married With Children).
Speaking of abuse, an 18-year-old man wearing a kilt was set on fire after dozing off on a bus in Oakland.
The US Border Patrol is ignoring recommendations by pro-police think tanks that it stop using deadly force against would-be immigrants who throw rocks. Not getting to shoot rock throwers, they say, would be "very restrictive." Since 2010, border agents have killed eight people because of rock-throwing incidents. Because, officials have decided, rocks are lethal weapons.
Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul's home state, blue and grassy (and bluegrassy) ol' Kentucky, is paying live people to serve as Obamacare enrollment guides, for once setting a good example for the rest of the country.
BEHOLD THE FIRST DAYS OF THE ROBOTS' RISE AND SUBMIT YOURSELVES TO THEIR WILL.
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